Tuesday, January 6, 2009

New Years Slope Fly-in at Volksies

Friday 2 January 2009:

The first week of 2009 saw a bunch of the Volksrust regulars congregate at Tamatieberg to kick off the year with a bang. Norbert happily joined in when I offered him a ride and we set of early on Friday to join the chaps who have been there since Monday. It turned out to be one of the best slope outings in recent memory with all three days we spent on the mountain being flyable. When we arrived the conditions were already good and although interspersed with some slermal lift we could fly to our hearts' content. I was having a ball with the Gentle Lady in the light lift. At some point Len Thomas had his Bird of Time up and got caught off guard when a real Volksies Boomer tried to suck his model into orbit.

Len tried his best running away from the lift but to no avail and he started having trouble keeping an eye on it. I must have been the only other mode 2 pilot around, as I soon found myself with his radio stuck in my sweating hands. Not having spoilers on the plane and being warned that the wing joiner was slightly "sub standard", made it damned near impossible to bring it down without folding a wing. Charl helped as spotter in case I lost sight of the model. After getting to grips with the handling of the plane I tried getting it inverted. On the first try the BOT just rolled out of the half roll, like any half decent polyhedral ship should, but on the second attempt I got it right. Initially the plane kept on climbing but with the right amount of pressure on the elevator stick it soon started losing height. The landing was a breeze compared to the fight to get it back.

Ken Kearns, as usual, had an immaculate collection of craft. Here he is getting ready to launch the electric assist ASH26. With the motor the launch is effortless (far right).
To keep his planes true to scale Ken even goes to the extent of making his own scale pilots and he does not mind sharing info. Here he can be seen giving Glen a Pilot Making 101 course.
Glen thanked him by a little later taking out the ASH26 in a midair with his Weasel.... ;o) Not to worry Glen, we know you didn't mean to. Sod's law #27 section 14 states that with only two aircraft in the air on the slope at any given moment in time the chances of them trying to occupy the same airspace at the same time is no longer a probability but a certainty, it's just a question of how long you can avoid it. Fortunately the damage wasn't all that bad and Ken had the model up again a little later after some quick temporary field repair.

These two beauties are from Len's hangar. To the left the very scale like built up Handley Page Victor.
The T21 Slingsby below is a "rag ship" that apparently took Len two years to build. Len prudently refrained from flying these two in the quickly changing conditions.

A late afternoon storm approaching from the south had us scurrying around the mountain flying on the NW, W, SW and E slopes. By the time it eventually settled on the Eastern slope it was blowing so hard even the birds were grounded.
Ken was keen on trying out his Celair Celstar G1 aerobatic glider. This model is based on a locally (Ermelo nogal) manufactured full size aerobatic glider of which there are, as far as I can determine, only three "copies" around.
Ken asked if I would mind launching for him. I was a bit apprehensive with the gale force blow tearing up the slope but Ken was adamant he wanted to give it a try. I quickly saw that the usual way of lifting the plane until the wings started working at more or less a horizontal attitude was not going to work as the wind almost twisted the model out of my hands.
On the second attempt I only lifted it to about 45° and gave it a firm push. It still shot upward like a cork in water. Ken was in 7th heaven...... right up to the point when the right hand wing folded :0( Check out the before and after pictures below.



Mike bummed the broken airframe off Ken, keen on trying to repair it. Ken just stripped out the radio gear and the pilot who had fortunately survived the crash.

We called it quits for the day when it started getting too cold and the call of a Windhoek around the braai fire could no longer be ignored.

Saturday 3 January 2009:

Saturday started off with a fresh enough wind on the NW slope that allowed me to kick off the day with a Toko-induced adrenaline rush. There are few experiences one can compare flying this carbon rocket with. One that comes close I think is that very first time as a kid you manage your first solo on your new bicycle with the training wheels off and Dad no longer keeping you upright. I get the shakes every time I fly this plane and every time it feels like the first time.

One of the highlights of the day was the launch of Len's T21 Slingsby.
Andries Gouws, on holiday in Vryheid, had joined us for the day and was given the unenviable launching task. The Slingsby is literally more than a handful to launch with its wide body and very litte room for a proper grip. Under the watchful guidance of some of the regulars Len gave the order to launch and the plane climbed away gracefully.
It soon became apparent that the Slingsby did not like turning slowly with a tendancy to dip the inside wing. It also did not like picking up too much speed. After some not quite comfortable flying, Len decided to rather come in to land and not being too confident with the handling of the plane, once again yours truly was roped in to do the honours, after ensuring me crash indemnity.
The tip stall tendency was quite noticeable and I lingered just long enough to suss out the handling characteristics and to see what the effect was of deploying the spoilers. I set up the landing making a wide downwind turn, mindful of keeping the speed within its narrow speed range. Nursing the very effective spoilers I managed to land it fairly gracefully to the cheers of the peanut gallery. Post flight inspection later revealed a bit of wash in on the wings (ooops) and everybody consented that the flutter experienced was due to the ailerons being driven by inboard servos via some bellcranks that just weren't stiff enough.

Andries launching
Piet's Omei

Charl launching Gert's
Coro Mig

Piet could eventually no longer stand all the egging on and decided that the moment of truth had arrived.... It was time to maiden the Aero Commander.
Andries was roped in to do the launching and after quite a run up the model effortlessly climbed out from the slope, doing its owner proud. Well done Noah!
Piet was ecstatic, but with his nerves in tatters, he could only manage about 7 or 8 minutes before he decided to bring it in. The maiden landing was smooth and uneventful.

Somewhere between all the launching duty being enforced on Andries, he managed to squeeze in a flight on his 3m Ash26.

Mike's Ventus 2ax with power pod strapped to it's back also got some airtime, again with Charl doing the heavy work of launching.

The Vulcan seen here being launched by Andries really surprised with it's docile handling and Len soon settled into some relaxed flying with this plane. From a distance you'd be hard pressed not to think this is the real McCoy.

Piet also had some fun with his Emoyeni in the excellent conditions.

Norbert's SB10 was graceful as ever.

Another big scale ship being launched, this time it's Mike's Diana 2 being launched over the lip.
We called it quits a little earlier than the previous day. One can only do so much flying before your energy reserves and your tolerance to the sun's unrelenting rays dries up.....

Sunday 4 January 2009:

Sunday started out even better than the previous two days and the big scale ships were soon tearing it up, like Mike's Big DG500. Once again Charl did the launching honours. With the wind registering way over 30kph on Charl's anemometer, even this 15kg bird took to the sky with nothing more than a firm heave (it's the picking up that gives you a hernia...)
Having shot close on 300 photos up till now, and to ensure some more airtime for myself I vowed to spend more time behind the transmitter than the camera for the day. I flew just about everything in my hangar and eventually by 3pm could quite happily say that I had had enough.

The year could not have started off on a better note and even the prospect of returning to work the following day could not dampen our spirits. One can only hope that the past three days was an indicator to what was to follow the rest of the year.

Catch you there next time!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Scrum Down, Thunder and Lightening, Big Kahunas, Local Fauna and Flora & Buzz Lightyear on Volksrust

A couple of us went down to see in the New Year at Volksrust.... On Tuesday afternoon a rain shower was spotted moving in towards the slope at great speed.

We scrambled to pack our models away, but Piet was not in time to complete packing away his Aero Commando and tent before the wind and rain hit. ....And hit with a force it did...... . The wind was so strong it just buckled the flimsy poles in seconds.

Piet and Edmund dived in under the cover to hold it down and away form the Aero Commando.

The wind hit with such force, it was coming across the slope horizontally in great sheets and within minutes the hollows filled up with water. I have never seen such strong and determined scrumming.

Robert claims that Piet and Edmund must have had "Ball like the sheep at Oom Louis farm" to be out in the storm with all the lightening about. (I wonder about BJ sometimes??)
Even the Lady Sheep get a glint in their eyes when they see such a well hung gent.

Meanwhile, Robert preferred to sit in the back of his Van and braai his Wors while all this was happening.

And then, ---------------as suddenly as it started, --------------- it was all over and the rain shower passed over to the south.

Our two intrepid "front row heavyweight" emerged from under the tent to reveal the slightly wet, but undamaged Aero Commando. (See the BERG Blog for a report on it's maiden flight http://berg-gliders.blogspot.com/ )

The sun came out and the flowers took on a sparkle. (If Izak can post flowers, why can't I?)

Even the local Gecko's came out to dry off in the sunshine and survey the surroundings.

If all that wasn't excitement enough, even Buzz Lightyear popped in to see if all was okay.
And then, off he went too. ------ To "Infinity and Beyond" I suppose